Not everyone digs the Christmas usual. Some will toot their own horn during the Kimmel's Tuba Christmas brass fantasy; some will hit North Star's Hanukkah JDub party for dreidels and gelt. And punk-rock saloons from Johnny Brenda's to National Mechanics will host holiday oddities.
But two most alternative celebrations happen at World Cafe Live.
For its 10th annual Winter Follies burlesque, Philly's Peek-a-Boo Revue has moved from tiny venues and workshop productions fueled (mostly) by bourbon and (a tad) by their manias.
"Now we cut the bourbon but highlight the manias," says Revue ringleader Scott Johnston. "There used to be internal struggles, too - like letting parents at our events dictate how raunchy or not sketches would be." Now they host two shows; an early one with one-man sideshow David Smith gently ribbing audiences with holiday cheeriness ("Granddad's burlesque," Johnston says), and a raunchier late show with pasties, G-strings, dead puppets, and Revue-ers Lulu Lollipop and Ginger Leigh warming your cockles. The Revue is so ecumenical it'll offend everyone, but will also deliver equal chances for collective inspiration.
"Gentiles enjoy our Hellenic ideals of womanhood, while Jews appreciate our investing so much time into our rehearsals," Johnston notes.
Speaking of Jews, Rob Tannenbaum (VH1 commentator, journalist) puts the holy holiday in non-Christian perspective in
Good for the Jews
. "Christmas isn't fun for Jews," he says. "Too much
It's a Wonderful Life
on television. You know how the movie ends: Jimmy Stewart saves the town, gets the girl."
With that film spoiled, Tannenbaum and guitarist/falsetto singer David Fagin offer a night ("second night of Hanukkah, could be the fifth, maybe the 12th") of humorous tunes in English. "Not Hebrew or Jewish or some weird foreign language," Tannenbaum teases. "I know four words of Hebrew, and three of them are
Like Peek-a-Boo, Tannenbaum has been in the alternative-to-Christmas biz for a while. "I wrote songs about being Jewish when [singer] Matisyahu was still eating bacon-burgers," he says. In 1997, he penned "It's Good to Be a Jew at Christmas," which wound up on
Now That Sounds Kosher
, alongside Tom Lehrer and Mel Brooks. "Those guys wrote funny songs about being Jewish. I just added snark, rock-and-roll, and a wardrobe no respectable Jew would ever wear onstage," Tannenbaum says.
Good for the Jews
is a matter of historic pride. "Jews invented irony - in the desert, what else did we have - and it spread around the world. Aside from the atom bomb and noodle kugel, it's our greatest gift to humanity."
Peek-a-Boo Revue's Winter Follies
with the Striptease Orchestra, Creamy Stevens, Little Brooklyn and David Smith play two shows at 7:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. Saturday. Tickets: $25, $35.
"Good for the Jews"
with Adam Brodsky and Matthue Roth play at 7:30 p.m. Monday. Tickets: $19 and $24.
Both at World Cafe Live, 3025 Walnut St. 215-222-1400,
Tuba Christmas Bring Your Own Horn event starts at 12:30 p.m. Saturday at Commonwealth Plaza at the Kimmel Center, 260 S. Broad St. Free. Contact: 215-790-5867,
JDub Records & Birthright Israel NEXT present: Hanukkah Worldwide
with DeLeon & JViewz at 9 p.m. Dec. 27 at North Star Bar, 2639 Poplar St.